tv Global 3000 KCSMMHZ July 3, 2012 2:00am-2:30am PDT
>> is week's united nations rio + 20 conference in brazil has the power to define a more sustainable future for us all. with plenty of risks attached. between industrialised nations and emerging economies. and all delegates are under pressure to prove that this meeting can be more than just another talking shop. of global 3000 on the rio + 20 conference. we want to bring you in on what is being debated -- and here's what's coming up --
sustainable at any cost? how environmentally sound are brazil's hydroelectric dams? emissions trading -- does europe's climate protection market work? and climate killer air conditioning -- an indian company offers customers a cleaner alternative. so what kind of future do we want? that is the official theme of rio + 20 and a very tall order. two decades after the first un conference on sustainable development countries are still struggling to agree on how to tackle a global problem like climate change beyond the national level. host nation brazil is pushing for more sustainable energy sources at home. having successfully pioneered ethanol production, it is now also trying to use a large scale hydro-electric dam project in the amazon region to produce renewable energy. sounds like a green policy.
but critics call the country's approach a greenwash, and here's why. >> the mighty madeira river is the amazon's largest and most important tributary. now it's being dammed to generate hydroelectric power. this was once a mountain with a waterfall. now a power station is being built -- of 44 planned turbines, three are already in operation. since the huge floodgates have been regulating the water flow, everything has changed. that's certainly true in porto velho. the city, just seven kilometers downriver, has more than 400,000 inhabitants. canoe maker francisco de souza has lived in this district on the banks of the madeira for almost 30 years. he says that just a few months ago there were gardens here with tall trees. now he tells us the entire river bank is a stony wasteland. it had to be raised and shored
up with rubble, because the river has suddenly become unpredictable. >> i'm no engineer, but i grew up by this river and i think i understand it much better than they do. they've never dealt with currents like this. this river has a strong current that carries a lot of flotsam and sand along with it. the fact that it's now washed away our houses and gardens is linked with this hydro power plant. they deny it, but it's obviously true. nothing like this has ever happened here before. >> the water did indeed rush in with full force after the floodgates were opened. as the first houses collapsed, action had to be taken quickly. 600 people were evacuated. for more than five months they've been living in temporary quarters. the dam operator is covering the costs.
but nobody knows what will happen next or whether they'll receive compensation. for most of them, returning is not an option. the damage is too great. souza says the company is using brochures like these to whitewash events, showing how it saved an entire district from flooding and how good it now looks. but he says the paint on the houses isn't real and the images have been manipulated. the power company, santo antonio energia, stresses its principles of sustainability. faced with the erosion damage, it was slow to accept responsibility, calling it a natural phenomenon. why? >> we needed time until our project managers had a chance to assess the situation and evaluate it properly. our model takes into account the dam's influence only within a
range of a kilometer downriver of it. so we hadn't anticipated this unexpected situation and couldn't respond quickly. >> new electricity pylons dot the landscape. most of the new power is being transmitted to the industrialized south of the country, passing by people like these two fish farmers. we go out with them onto the artificial lake behind the dam. the water is still rising. some of the vegetation was simply submerged -- most of the trees are now rotting in the water. one of the farmers tells us this side was once river bank, and all forested. it's hard to imagine where the riverbed used to be. the two show us what was once
their fish farm. the enclosures have been empty for four months. here, the river is almost a stagnant backwater now. raimundo bacelar says it contains too little oxygen, and that the plants and trees that were cut down weren't removed before the water flooded in. >> when the water rose, it all went very fast. it didn't make the fish sick at the beginning. and it's not that two or three fish died at first- then we could have done something. but no. they all died at once almost immediately. when we arrived, the breeding enclosures were white from the fish floating on the surface. >> they lost more than 80 tonnes of fish, and here, too, nobody knows whats going to happen. most fishermen in the region say the lake has far fewer fish now.
the dam operator disputes that, citing various studies that suggest the opposite. philip fearnside, a renowned amazon researcher, thinks the fishermen's assessment is realistic. for years, he's been studying the impact of building dams in tropical climates. >> the lower layer of water in the artificial lake no longer has any oxygen. that means all the roots, leaves and other organic matter decaying there aren't releasing carbon dioxide, because they aren't getting any oxygen. they're releasing methane. methane contributes much more to the greenhouse effect pro tonne than carbon. methane gets into the air both in bubbles on the water's surface and when the water passes through the turbines. that's never taken into account, but it contributes significantly to global warming -- there's nothing green about
this energy. >> the area around the dam construction site will be greener, at least visually. the power company plans to plant seedlings on 600 hectares. we ask again how this power is green. >> the energy is considered clean because the process of generating it doesn't pollute the environment. there is an impact on nature, i'll admit, but the power generation is clean. >> the brazilian government is sticking to that view and promoting the construction of more huge dams -- 30 of them in the amazon region alone. conflicting views between rich nations and developing countries make solving the big issues of our time so difficult.
we spoke to elisabeth thompson. she is the former minister for energy and environment of barbados and now the coordinator at rio plus 20 for developing countries. we asked her for her bottom line of what needs to come out of rio. >> some of the other things i think we'll definitely come away with are agreement on issues like water, and energy and food security, which are all very important. how do we do it in three days? the truth is that the process is already very much ongoing. we've been negotiating now at the government level since january of this year. fossil fuel interests are powerful and entrenched. and it is easy to live with what we already know. it's easier to remain where you are than to get up and go
somewhere else. so that change is never easy. there is some lip service, but i think that the market itself is driving changes. you have the fact that consumers are making choices which are more environmentally safe, which are more environmentally sound. there is a whole movement toward whole food and organic products and goods and services from ethical locations or where ethical practices have been used in the supply chain. i expect leadership, i expect the willingness to compromise and to understand the developing country perspective, i expect them to recognize that the issues that are at stake are not about developed country or developing country. they are about countries, they
are about global society, they are about people and improving the quality of life of people. when we get to rio the minds are already meeting on what we need to do and what we need to deliver. and quite frankly if you consider where we are in terms of the socio-economic crisis, the financial crisis, the kind of social dislocation that we've had as a result of it, the reality is that our citizens are depending on the international system, on their governments, to deliver solutions. so we really don't have a choice at rio. >> as elisabeth thompson mentioned there, a political framework is key to providing more sustainable living conditions. many experts also argue that the financial crisis is beyond being fixed by the markets themselves, calling for
politicians to re-define the rules. emissions trading is europe's attempt to harness the forces of the markets for the green cause. and here's how it works. >> carbon emissions are rising worldwide, and with them, world temperatures. if we want to stop global warming, we have to cut our carbon emissions. and that's why the emissions trading system was set up. those with a smaller carbon footprint save and the big polluters pay! but how are co2 emissions traded? a ton of carbon dioxide is equivalent to one permit. a permit gives you the right to emit a ton of carbon into the air power companies and steelworks produce a lot of carbon, so they often get involved in emissions trading. each company is issued a specific number of permits in
accordance with our climate target. european industries are required by law to emit 20% less by the year 2020 -- so their carbon footprint has to be less each year. companies have to budget with their permits, because once they're used up, the company has to trade. its options are -- 1, invest in clean technologies and reduce its carbon emissions that way, or 2, buy permits from another company that has some left over. but the company can also invest in green projects in developing countries. instead of cleaning up production in its own factory, it can invest in wind turbines, for instance. that cuts carbon emissions somewhere else. because emissions trading gives carbon dioxide a price tag, there's a business case for clean energy. and that helps the climate.
>> an elegant concept, but these days the positive results from emissions trading in europe are beginning to stagnate. that's because it has become cheaper again to pollute rather than to invest in cleaner technology. so in reality this clever mechanism can turn out to be a rather blunt political instrument. that happens when key parameters change. and that's exactly what has happened in europe. >> this gas-fired power plant is in irsching near ingolstadt. power plants like this one are supposed to play a key role in germany's energy turn-around. irsching holds the world record for its efficiency -- with relatively low carbon emissions, it converts over 60 percent of the energy in natural gas into electricity the rest is lost as heat. this kind of performance suggests that the turbines in irsching should be running at full capacity. but they're not. the world record holder is running at 50 percent capacity,
well below its potential. in contrast, germany's lignite- fired power plants are running at full tilt like this one in boxberg, saxony. paradoxically, lignite is enjoying a renaissance because the most important climate protection tool here emissions trading doesn't punish major polluters enough. >> that's no doubt because the current price for emissions permits is relatively low, 7 euros. if it were 17 or 27 euros, things would be different. then irsching would be running at full capacity, and the lignite-fired power plants would be working less, because for every tonne of carbon, you have to give in a permit, and that has to be bought on the market. converting lignite to power emits 2 to 3 times more carbon than running an efficient gas- fired power plant like the one in irsching.
>> converting polluting lignite to power instead of climate friendly natural gas makes business sense because of the drop in prices for permits in european emissions trading. for the 11,000 or so participants - steelworks, power plants and other high- carbon companies - the current 7 euros per ton of co2 is hardly an incentive to cut their emissions or invest in climate- friendly technologies. emissions trading has virtually ground to a halt because politicians failed to predict major trends. >> the drop in prices we're experiencing now is chiefly due to two factors. one is the financial crisis in 2009. that led to fewer emissions permits being needed, because emissions were lower, but these emissions permits are still on the market pushing prices down. it's a question of supply and demand.
and secondly, our development of renewable energies with the aim of phasing out fossil fuels, is making faster and better progress than expected. >> to strengthen european emissions trading, europe would have to artificially increase permit prices. but german industry opposes that - the economics ministry sees no reason to 'intervene in pricing in the emissions trading system'. the environment ministry doesn't share that view. >> in this historically unique situation we might have to intervene retroactively and say we'll remove surpluses from the market that prevent us and industry - from having the right price signals. >> the german chancellor's office is silent on the issue of whether to take surplus permits out of circulation. but ultimately the decision on
the ailing emissions trading system will be taken in brussels, not berlin. >> if you want to set a greater incentive for emissions reducing measures in emissions trading as well, the best thing would be if the overall target were raised from minus 20 to minus 30 by the year 2020, with a corresponding rise in the price for emissions permits, so that climate protection measures will pay off more than they do now." +++ >> so it's up to europe to find an appropriate price for its carbon emissions and with it, a basis for creating a more carbon-neutral future. >> we head to india, which could be described as something of a supply industry for europe's scheme. many projects that create co2 savings here produce pollution rights that are snapped up by european industries. india's own market is driven by consumer demand without a
comparable scheme. in this climate a manufacturer in mumbai is trying to convince customers that investing in more eco-friendly air conditioning pays off for them -- as well as the environment. >> a summer's day in mumbai. it's hot, far above 35 degrees celsius. anyone with a day off is at juhu beach cooling down, as far as that's possible. shashikant chaudhari just has a short break. he runs a popular snack bar. now he's gone home for a quick lunch. the chaudharis belong to india's middle class. the fan that just circulates the hot air is no longer good enough for them. now they want an air conditioner.
>> it's true, air conditioners are expensive, but we're going to buy one, just because it's so hot. >> i can't concentrate on my studies because of the heat. that's why we need it. >> about 4 million air conditioners are sold every year in india. the refrigerants in them are extremely bad for the climate, like in most air conditioning units worldwide. the harmful gases often escape into the atmosphere through leaks in the appliances. 200 kilometers south-east of mumbai -- since april 2012 the indian company godrej has been making air conditioners that are better for the environment. they're 600 percent less damaging to the climate than conventional units. in air conditioner manufacturing, that amounts to a revolution. about a million euros for the
manufacturing plant came from the german environment ministry. godrej itself invested about half that amount. >> the carbon emissions the consumer saves with this unit are equivalent to the entire amount of carbon emitted by your average german car driver in a year. >> there's a disadvantage -- the refrigerant used is propane, a highly flammable gas. using it requires high safety standards. >> we use a very small quantity the unit. we are using only 350 to 370 size of about 150 square feet, which what this unit is meant for. so even if this entire charge leaks out into the room, it
would not cause a flammable mixture with the air inside the room. >> the godrej company wants to break into a market that many other manufacturers have already cornered the competition is tough, even though the market is growing steadily. company headquarters in mumbai -- the family-owned business is over a hundred years old. anyone who wants an affordable refrigerator or washing machine buys from godrej - at least that used to be the case. but in the past few years the company has lost market share. with its "green" air conditioners it hopes to attract more customers again. for this to work, the marketing strategy has to be just right. video clips emphasize the product's climate credentials. but they're shown only in shops. in its television commercials, godrej is focusing on energy
efficiency. the new air conditioner uses over 20 percent less electricity than the others. >> a lot of us, personally, liked the green approach a lot more, but when we went to consumers we found out that the green approach was not what worked for them. primarily, they were looking for energy efficiency and value for money for themselves. and if they were getting that, and "green" was additional to that, then that was great. >> the chaudharis did some comparison shopping. but in the end they opted for the godrej product, even though it cost about 10 percent more than the competition. >> they explained the unit to us. you only have to fill it once. the electricity costs are lower, and it's environmentally friendly as well. >> this unit has just come onto the market. i've only sold two in two weeks,
but i think it will establish itself on the market. >> a strategy meeting at godrej. markus wypior from the german agency for international cooperation, the giz, explains what's required to get a german eco-label a good selling point on the indian market. >> we would like to go to other international markets, obviously, but establish ourselves, establish the technology well; make sure that all the safety requirements are taken care of, then, obviously go forward. >> in neighboring countries, it will probably be relatively easy to get established. but if they want to break into the european market, they'll have to fulfil slightly higher standards. but first their target is the indian market.
the chaudharis are proud owners of one of the one thousand-odd climate-friendly units sold so far. the installers have been specially trained by godrej, to make sure not an iota of flammable propane can escape. finally the long-awaited moment arrives. and shashikant chaudhari thinks it's just cool. >> and that was our special program on the rio + 20 sustainability conference. you can find plenty more information at our website www.dw.de/rio20. for now from me and the entire team here in berlin -- thanks for watching and bye bye! captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--